Bonus: an instruction manual for 8-3
World eight, level three was for me the hardest area in the whole game. It took perhaps two or three evenings of cursing and strategy-making, with my sister coming over to witness my madness and revel in the nostalgia of it all.
It is the only sky level in the whole game. It takes place in the clouds. If world 8-2 was symbolic of a fiery hell then 8-3 is Marios ascent into heaven. Although frankly I dont know what kind of heaven this, as it is 100x more hellish than the previous area.
1. First, begin with a super jump to give yourself enough momentum to lightly touch the red platform and knock out the Lakitu in one big sweep. It is best to do this bit with speed and power otherwise you might jump up and underneath the Lakitu.
2. Perform a regular jump on top of the Koopa Paratrooper and use the lift gained to land onto the cloud on the right.
3. Next, just fall down the gap. While falling gently tap forward on the directional cross to land on the small bit of cloud next to the spring. Jump on the spring. When jumping I tend to press down on A at the moment in the animation where the spring is most flat. There is an inconsistency to this sometimes and I am still not sure whether it is my fault or the games fault when the spring does not catapult Mario to the highest height possible. But anyway, you will have to get a feel for it yourself and use your best judgment.
4. When on the small red platform you will be dropping down as if you are sinking in mud every time you touch it, so to stall your descent just keep pressing A to jump on the spot thereby spending 50% of your time in the air. You are doing this because there is another Lakitu hovering about near you and you want to time it just right so you can jump on its head when it comes to the right of you. If you dont do this then the next section of the level becomes much harder as the Lakitu throws red spikey creatures all over the clouds and he seems to have an infinite supply of these.
5. When the Lakitu is neutralized you can fall down and super jump over to the next cloud, or perhaps use the lift from the Lakitu to push you forward to it instead.
There are two Koopas here, one on the ground and another that is patrolling an impossibly tight space upon the needle of a three-block structure. These blocks are not mutable and cannot be destroyed with shells. There are a number of strategies one can employ at this point. The most difficult but perhaps most rewarding is to set the turtle that is on the ground spinning and jump over it as it falls off the edge, then super jump over the turtle on the vertical structure just grazing it so it goes into its shell, but managing to send Mario over the edge. Then, if you can muster enough courage, super jump back over the Koopa without touching it this time. Now you are on the other side and you have created a weapon for the oncoming Hammer Bros. juggernaut.
6. This is the running strategy. You have to be quick. The plan is to kick the shell off the pin and chase after it as it knocks down the two Hammer Bros. If you run too fast you will get hammers in your face, but if you run too slow the shell will get lost and disappear off the edge of the screen. If you can perform this you feel great, but its very hard.
Here is another strategy: forget about the turtles. Move past them and jump directly up to uncover a hidden block. A present in the form of a poison mushroom will spill out. Let it go and then jump on the block. Now the first Hammer Bro will come at you. You can use your height to jump on his head or jump over him. Your choice, but personally I would rather jump over him as I might hit his fountain of hammers. And this is a different projection of DIY tools than the Hammer Bros. you have encountered earlier; its not the same behavior so be warned if you think you can find a safe haven underneath the fountain. This one is more like piss coming out of a pewter cherub. It is all over the place.
7. First Hammer Bro is down. Next one is coming up. But dont jump above him because there is a hidden block right in the place the game expects you to jump. Yes, they actually did that. Slow-mo to Mario hitting the block and it pushing him on top of the Hammer Bro. The audience screams! This section is so horrible I would just suggest you do anything to get around it. Anything where you can come out alive is a good strategy. There is no easy way.
8. The next section lets you breath for a moment. It is empty.
9. More Hammer Bros. Just get past them. I employ the dont stop for nothing strategy and jump over them. At this point in the game I just couldnt be bothered to learn their behaviors. Run past them or do whatever you can to reach the next section.
10. There is a pulley system, but it is too high to jump. I had fun falling to my doom many times before I figured out (on my own) that there are two hidden blocks near the pulley. Find them by desperately headbutting the sky and use them as jumping off points to reach the pulleys with a super jump.
11. For the love of god jump on that pole and slide down to your victory. You have just beaten one of the hardest levels in the game.